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Trent Reznor: The Nine Inch Nails rocker talks addiction, scoring David Fincher films and his David Bowie epiphany


When you don't really want to stop being a drunk or a drug addict, you can find any excuse that validates what you're doing I used the excuse that I need to do this because it's fuelling my art. It reached that point where death was around the corner. Having the courage to find redemption was worth it to me, even if it cost me my artistic life. Because it was going to cost me my actual life if I had kept on that path.

I'm not who I used to be I'm aware that people say Hesitation Marks [released last August] is Nine Inch Nails' "happy" album. I don't really understand that, but I'm not in active addiction now and not trying to kill myself, and I'm happy for that.

I'm very lucky to have people interested in what I'm up to The way I've treated that is to give it the respect it deserves. I'm always pushing myself so what I do doesn't become routine. I stopped Nine Inch Nails in 2009 as it was on the verge of becoming that.

Stumbling into scoring films with David Fincher was one of the most creatively rewarding things I've done [Reznor scored The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.] It was challenging and stimulating to be around smart people from a different discipline and thrust into a place where you're functioning at 1,000 per cent. Oddly, it made me long to see what would happen if I placed myself centre-stage again [which he did by reviving Nine Inch Nails and releasing Hesitation Marks in 2013].

I started weeping when I saw the Johnny Cash video for 'Hurt' [Cash covered the Nine Inch Nails song in 2002.] Not to sound ridiculous, but I got goosebumps. It felt like, we're all connected here through music. The fact that this confessional I wrote in my bedroom had made it to this iconic figure, who had turned it into a statement of his own life, was incredibly flattering.

Touring is method acting Playing "Hurt" and other old songs, you become the person in that song again. You're going through that cathartic thing, night after night. I don't know if that's healthy or not. It's not just physically tiring, it's emotionally draining.

David Bowie, in a subtle way, provided me with a framework [Bowie offered Reznor some advice on their joint tour in 1995-1996.] He got through a dark phase and somehow emerged even cooler. He had something I wanted. He seemed happy and excited to do his art, and not on the verge of dying. He wasn't alienating everyone around him. The things he said to me didn't take immediate hold but, believe me, I remembered them at various intersections I came to in my life.

I was flattered that Josh Homme put me on a pedestal of friendship [when the Queens of the Stone Age's frontman sought Reznor's help.] Josh didn't come to me in despair. He came to me in a state of, I'm not sure what to do right now and I'm feeling insecure. I recognised myself in that. Not from abuse issues, but creatively. I was happy to give advice, because I know how valuable those moments are that I've received from people.

I'm feeling the confidence I need to dive into creation mode There'll be many forks in the road ahead. It'll be like, has everything I've ever done sucked? That's ahead of me, for sure. There's nothing worse than that blank sheet of paper but, generally, I'm feeling optimistic about the well of ideas right now.

Trent Reznor, 48, is the foremost member of industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails, an Oscar-winning film composer and a father of two. He put the band on hiatus in 2009 then revived the name in 2013. Nine Inch Nails begin a UK tour on 18 May in Birmingham (tour.nin.com)